Borden appears poised to win their first sectional title later this month.
On Wednesday at Jeffersonville, the Braves looked like they could make some noise in the regional as well following a 5-0 victory over Southern Indiana power Jeffersonville.
Borden remained unbeaten on the season at 12-0 and hasn’t lost a regular-season match in over two calendar years. While the Braves are used to winning, a victory over Jeffersonville — the best program that shows up on their annual schedule — is more special than most.
“It shows that we can compete with some of these bigger schools,” Braves coach Ross Shauver said. “Any time you’re competing as a small school trying to build a program, it always helps that we actually show that we can compete with these teams.”
“This really does have us a boost of confidence,” Borden senior Sarah Hurst added.
Jeffersonville coach Mark Reilly said the Braves are legitimate sectional contenders.
“I think they should be a top-30 team in the state,” he said. “They have five [positions] that are solid.”
Despite a decade-long dominance over the Southern Athletic Conference and some perfect regular seasons, the Braves haven’t been able to get by Silver Creek in the sectional. The Dragons have beaten Borden 3-2 in the sectional each of the past two seasons. This year, Borden appears to have its best team yet.
“I think we’re ahead [of where we were last year],” Borden senior Abby Ellis said. “Our doubles are good and our singles are really, really strong this year. Sure, Silver Creek is in the back of our minds for sectional, but ... one match at a time.”
“This year’s team I think is actually a little bit better than last year’s because our singles players are better,” Shauver assessed his 2014 squad.
In fact, the Braves’ No. 2 and No. 3 players — sophomore Kendyl Wheatley and Hurst, respectively — beat their Red Devil opponents with little trouble to give Borden a quick 2-0 lead. Wheatley earned a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Kaitlin Wunsch, while Hurst dropped just one game to McKenna Woodard.
“There aren’t a lot of teams around here who have three strong singles player. We have that and it’s really nice,” Hurst said.
“I’ve been spoiled rotten for the last two years because my 2 and 3 are some of the best 2s and 3s around this area,” Shauver said. “It’s nice when you can roll into a match and know most of the time that you’re going to win two matches.”
Wheatley and Hurst have gone back and forth between the two singles spots. Hurst said it has been a friendly rivalry.
“We like to compete during practice,” Hurst said. “We play where our coach wants us in order to win.”
Ellis clinched Wednesday’s victory at No. 1 singles with a three-set 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 victory over Emily Lewis.
“It was a long one, three sets,” Ellis said, “but I enjoy playing good competition. I knew coming in it was going to be tough.”
Ellis said the matchup with Lewis was similar to a sectional match. “I was very, very nervous all day,” she said, “but I had fun.”
However, she was completely unaware that her win was the clinching point. “I didn’t know that,” she admitted. “I don’t really think about [the other matches going on]. I just play my match.”
Borden finished off the Red Devils with a sweep at the two doubles spots. Junior Bailey Kruer and Kaelan Harmes struggled to beat Jeff’s No. 2 doubles team of Katie Bowen and Haley Asplund in the opening set. After a 7-5 triumph in the opening set, Kruer and Harmes rolled to a 6-1 victory in the second.
At No. 1 doubles, juniors McKenzie Owens and Sidney Martin needed three sets to beat the Devils’ combo of Rachel Williams and Libby West. Owens won the first set 7-5, dropped the second 6-3 then earned the win with a 6-4 third-set triumph.
“I was looking forward to this match today because of doubles. Doubles is the only way we’re going to beat Silver Creek,” Shauver admitted. “The two [doubles] matches we played today were against pretty good doubles [teams], like Silver Creek.”
Despite a 5-0 defeat, Reilly said he enjoyed facing the Braves. It’s rare, he said, that two teams enter so closely matched and it was good to see how his squad reacted.
“It’s a great match for us at this point in the season,” Reilly said. “We came in a little underdog, but I thought we had a good chance to beat them if we came out and played well. Some of our girls played well at points, but we had some letdowns.”
Borden should clinch its eighth consecutive SAC title today at South Central. Jeff goes to the Jasper Invitational on Friday and Saturday.
BORDEN 5, JEFFERSONVILLE 0
1 — Abby Ellis d. Emily Lewis 6-2, 2-6, 6-4.
2 — Kendyl Wheatley d. Kaitlin Wunsch 6-0, 6-0.
3 — Sarah Hurst d. McKenna Woodard 6-0, 6-1.
1 — McKenzie Owens-Sidney Martin d. Libby West-Rachel Williams 7-5, 3-6, 6-4.
2 — Bailey Kruer-Kaelan Harmes d. Katie Bowen-Haley Asplund 7-5, 6-1.